Senate Republicans are expected to block a bill creating a commission to investigate the pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol on January 6, preventing a high-profile probe into the attack that led to the deaths of five people and about 140 police officers injured.
The timing of the vote is uncertain. Senators had expected to take a procedural vote as soon as Thursday night before heading out on weeklong Memorial Day recess. But a stalled debate on an unrelated bill aimed at increasing US competitiveness with China pushed back the timing for the commission vote. Senators were on the floor of the Senate late Thursday night to try to solve the impasse.
Despite the delay, the commission vote is still expected to fall short of the 60 votes it needs to advance. The refusal of at least 10 Republican senators to vote for the commission underscores the deeply partisan divide that has emerged over the insurrection earlier this year and comes at a crucial time for Capitol Hill where Democrats are struggling to advance President Joe Biden’s agenda. Some Democrats are citing the resistance by Republicans as a sign for why the Senate should blow up the 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation, given the narrowly divided chamber.
While some Republicans said months ago that a 9/11-type commission into the security of the Capitol was a necessity, they’ve since argued that it wouldn’t yield any new information amid other law enforcement investigations and arrests. Their opposition has infuriated Democrats, who assert that Republicans are trying to protect themselves ahead of the midterm elections.
“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN on Thursday. “(Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”
The House-passed legislation aims to create a 10-person panel to figure out what happened, including the law enforcement’s “preparedness and response,” and then report recommendations in order “to prevent future acts of targeted violence and domestic terrorism.”
While the mob failed to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s 2020 victory, 147 Republicans voted to object to it. Now most Republicans in Congress oppose a new commission delving into the attack on the Capitol, charging that Democrats want to use it as a political tool in the 2022 midterm elections. Democrats have criticized Republicans in turn for siding with former President Donald Trump, who continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, in the national security matter.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated on Thursday that Biden supports setting up the new commission.
“He wants to make sure that’s law because that was a dark day in our history,” said Psaki. “He thinks we should not only take a moment to recognize that but also prevent it from happening ever in the future.”
What McConnell and Schumer are saying
McConnell objects to building the commission, citing ongoing law enforcement investigations and the hundreds of arrests made, as well as lower-profile activities in congressional committees. Earlier this week, McConnell said that the bill “is a purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information.”